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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Theocracy Without Faith?

In his long, compelling take on Dinesh D’Souza’s The Enemy At Home in The New Republic, Andrew Sullian makes one point about D’Souza that I think may be characteristic of others on the Right:

Where he differs from the religious right is in his willingness to find the proper political authority, the proper models of political virtue, in Islam. Islam and Christianity together: that is D’Souza’s dream. He does not seem especially interested in God. He writes nothing about his own faith, whatever it is. His interest is not in the metaphysics or the mysteries of religion, but in the uses of religion for social control. (Somewhere Machiavelli is smiling.) In the goal of maintaining patriarchy, banning divorce, outlawing homosexuality, and policing blasphemy, any orthodoxy will do. D’Souza’s religion, in a sense, is social conservatism. He is not going to let a minor matter such as the meanings of God get in the way of his religion.

I’d go further and suggest that even some ostensibly religious conservatives have conflated faith with cultural conservatism, as though the moral and sexual practices, and gender roles, of the nineteenth century in Europe and America and of many developing countries today were the sum and substance of Christianity. D’Souza may not be the only spokesman for what might be described as theocracy without faith: the use of religious authority to impose a particular type of social order, with the actual observance of the underlying religion being a trifle.

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